Author: Chris Cook
Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: Based on characters from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, created by Joss Whedon and his minionators. All original material is copyright 2005 Chris Cook. Fraggle Rock music by Philip Balsam, Dennis Lee and Robert J. Walsh.
Feedback: Yes please! Please leave feedback on the Elemental thread on the Kitten Board.
Thanks: To all the other Elementalists: writers, betas, and organisers.

Willow picked up a tarnished old tankard, examined it briefly, and put it back with a sigh.

'Can't exactly see myself hauling that out for tea,' she mused as she allowed herself to drift with the moderate crowd, on to another stall.

Friday at the street market was something of a tradition, though today it was - at least, she intended it to be - more of a comfort. Every Friday, with the week's work done and plenty of time later to worry about the next week, she would meander and dawdle and pick through the oddments and cheap antiques and bric-a-brac and what-nots, and forget everything else. It was a habit she had picked up from Xander, her one-and-only boyfriend - pre-gay - and best friend from that few weeks in the tenth grade onwards. His forays to the markets were more focused, specifically on Star Wars toys, which he rarely found but never stopped looking for. Willow had little interest in Luke Skywalker and Han Solo - though her fascination with Princess Leia in her metal bikini should perhaps have given her a clue, earlier than the tenth grade - but as a faithful best friend she had always tagged along, and browsed randomly in his wake as he inspected packagings and compared production years stamped on figures' legs. Her bedroom, formerly a bastion of Spartan functionality, began to acquire a collection of random items Willow found attractive - or junk, as her mother had put it. 'The collection' had made its way with Willow across the city when she moved out, and now brightened, or at least filled, her home.

She paused to run a finger along the edge of a ceramic bowl, then decided she didn't like the pattern and moved on.

'Wish Xander was here,' she thought glumly. He always knew how to 'turn her frown upside-down,' even if it did sometimes involve manually pushing the corners of her mouth up. Willow's frown was today downside-down, and seemed likely to remain so. It had been that kind of a day.

A necklace held Willow's attention for a moment, before proving on closer inspection to be rather gaudy.

This Friday hadn't been disastrous, by any means. But it was the little things, and they had piled up. Breakfast cereal that had, against all reason, managed to arrange itself in its plastic storage box such that all the sultanas and apricot bits had already gone, and all that remained were bland wheat flakes. A sore back, presumably acquired sometime during the night from tossing and turning, god only knew how, that made her morning exercises test her patience. Morning radio during said exercises, which managed to play not one, not two, but three songs which irritated her unduly, forcing her to switch the damned thing off. Clients at work deciding that, actually, while they had specified exactly what sort of program they wanted - a process which had taken its sweet time and put various projects back to begin with - they now realised that what they actually wanted was something completely different...

And lunch, Willow recalled with a grimace. She had to stop letting Buffy set her up on dates. The girl was... cheerful. Disposed to smile, at anything and anyone, so much so that by the end of the meal Willow had sincerely wished she would lose her temper and have a tantrum, just for variety. Or at least to talk about something other than clothes, cheerleading - Willow hadn't even realised there were professional cheerleaders - and Lindsay Lohan's boobs. It was as if she was a lesbian version of the gaggle of girls Willow remembered, with disdain, from her school days, the ones whose conversations consisted mainly of "Oooh, he's so dreamy..." Note to self, she had decided, no more Buffy-arranged blind dates. Something in her personal trainer's mental circuitry seemed to go haywire when she turned her keen focus onto matters of her heart - Willow's or her own, to judge by the string of odd boyfriends she had been in undying, true love with, and thoroughly sick of a month later.

A wooden chicken, no doubt intended to brighten any kitchen with an aura of farm-y wholesomeness, gave Willow cause to wonder if the carver had been ill.

She decided it was time to face the facts - God, fate, the powers that be, blind chance, and/or whoever was idly mucking about with a planet-sized game of The Sims had decided that today would be a write-off for Willow Rosenberg, and nothing she might find during an after-work trawl through the street market was going to change that, not even the deep golden mirror peeking out at her from behind a box of old records...

Willow stood as close as she could, her hips bumping the edge of the table, and leaned over, peering at the disc. It was a foot across, slightly convex, polished to a fine finish but dimmed with age, decorated at its edges with abstract, embossed patterns.

'Must be an imitation,' Willow mused, staring into the dull reflection of her own form, leaning forward. 'A copy of some old antique... I mean, it looks like it's made of gold, no-one would put it out here if it was really gold. Still... real or copy, what's the difference if it looks good?'

"How much for this?" she asked the woman behind the table, who was chatting with a friend beside her.

"That old thing?" she asked, glancing down at the mirror. "It's a fake, you know?"

"I figured," Willow nodded. "How much?"

"Sixty-five," the woman suggested, as a first offer. Willow had done her share of good-natured haggling, and knew how the game was played.

"Done," her mouth said before the rest of her could stop it.

The woman gave a look of mild surprise, then shrugged, wrapped the mirror in tissue paper, taped it up, and slid it into a paper bag.

Willow's phone rang - or rather, played a tinny rendition of the theme to 'Fraggle Rock' - just as she reached her door, somewhat damp, but not drenched. It had begun to sprinkle on the way home, making Willow regret her choice to walk, despite it being her favourite mode of transport. Finding the mirror had cheered her somewhat, though, and she felt it would be best to take advantage of her good mood. She had ended up carrying the wrapped mirror in both arms, like a baby, unwilling to trust its fate to the strength of a damp paper bag. All in all, she had to concede a bus may have been preferable.

'Lucky the rain's as half-hearted as everything else today,' Willow griped silently, balancing the phone between her ear and her shoulder as she searched for her keys.

"Hello? Oh, hi Buff... Yes I met her. What?" she asked defensively, opening the door to her modest house and kicking it closed behind her as she entered. "I do not have an I-knew-it-would-be-a-disaster voice... okay, it was a disaster. I'm strenuously resisting the temptation to say I told you so... Because she's just not my type- Yes I know it's a cliché. Well maybe it got to be a cliché from being true a lot of the time, which is why people kept saying it..."

She put the package on her dinner table and moved on to the kitchenette in search of coffee.

"No, I think I'll stay in tonight, watch a DVD or something... I know, I promise I'm not being moody stay-at-home girl, I just feel like staying at home... not moody, I said! The home part is pure coincidence. Look you go have fun, you're still meeting that Irish guy? Well there you go, you'd be better off without a chaperone, wouldn't you?" She gave a brief laugh at something Buffy said, but the laugh didn't reach her eyes.

"Okay... yeah I'll call you tomorrow, or Sunday. No I'm fine, I've got a new antique from the market to play with... antique, Buffy, not junk. You have your wardrobe, I have my ju- collection. Yep. Okay, see you. Bye."

Willow gave a sigh and a wry smile as she hung up, left the kettle heating up, and returned to the dining room to investigate her new purchase. The tape holding the tissue paper closed proved to be fingernail-resistant, so she spent a moment hunting for an extraordinarily thick Swiss army knife, spent another moment searching among its fifty or so attachments for a knife, and then slit the tape down the centre.

'One of these days I'll get into the habit of just tearing stuff open,' she promised herself.

"Okay mirror, come to momma." She lifted the object out of its resting place and held it carefully by the edges, keeping her fingertips away from the polished surface. She studied her reflection in it, going slightly cross-eyed to try to make it out.

"Needs a bit of polish," she concluded, noting her reflected features were distorted slightly, changing the shape of her face. Of course, the metal imbued her image with a golden tinge, but that was to be expected... Even so, she mused, it wasn't an unattractive piece... in fact, as she stared into it further, she could see it having a place somewhere in her home, in the bedroom, perhaps. She smiled slightly at the thought. It wouldn't be much good as a functional mirror - even if the slight distortions in its surface were worked out, which she was by no means sure she wanted to go to the trouble of doing, it was still not flat, and the wrong colour. But the thought of having this curious artefact on her dresser appealed to what she liked to consider her 'sense of eccentricity'.

Willow went through her usual evening routine, but found herself starved of vitality - dinner seemed uninteresting, to cook and eat, nothing in her DVD collection seemed particularly noteworthy tonight, and the television on offer was the usual bland fare. With the mood of the day lingering over her, Willow was tempted to just throw in the towel and go to bed early - everything seemed grey and disinterested.

Except the mirror, which was what kept her from doing so. She was curious about it - she knew nothing, save that it was different, out of the ordinary, and - the more she glanced at it through the evening - beautiful.

She ended up, inevitably it seemed, sitting at the table with the mirror propped up on a stack of books, with her laptop open beside it. Knowing so little of it to begin with, it proved difficult to find any information at all. Strangely, she didn't find this frustrating - she would stop now and then, to stare into the golden surface, and feel a kind of peace descend over her as she studied her faint reflection in it.

At last, with her cup of tea cold and forgotten by her side, she turned up a promising lead, and pursued it through various searches and websites until she found a photo of what seemed to be the same mirror. 'Must be the original it was made to look like,' she told herself. Intrigued, she read on, about the artefact's origin in ancient Persia, the discovery of various like it, among the treasure troves of the rich and prosperous, the stories about them... it began to seem like it had come from Ali Baba's cave itself.

They were referred to, in the flowery tales associated with it, as 'mirror' or 'well' - 'well of life', in one instance. One account, from a website more interested in myth than fact, but which Willow nonetheless read for entertainment, told of the artefacts being used to summon djinns, genies, brought forth as if from a magic bottle. Those blessed with a visit from these spirits were made rich, but not with three wishes - rather, the tale went, they were made rich in spirit, their souls rejuvenated, and though they came away from the experience no more prosperous or fortunate than they had been before, they lived happily to the end of their days.

Willow smiled wanly, and gave the mirror a quick rub.

"No genie?" she said. "Oh well... not an original." She looked around the quiet interior of her home, and sighed. "Pity."

Willow cleaned up dinner, washed her dishes, had a shower, and was getting ready for bed when her eye fell on the plain mirror adorning the wall above her dresser, and she decided on a whim to put her new possession in place. She took down the old mirror and found an old frame for holding portrait photographs upright which, she judged, would do for the mirror after a little dusting.

It was while she was carefully settling the mirror onto its new frame on top of the dresser that she noticed a curious thing about it - while its reflection of her was indistinct, and coloured gold by the metal, it didn't seem to be reflecting the room around her at all. She spent a moment peering into it from different angles, walking to the other side of the room and looking back, and even found a torch to shine into it. Still, she was the only thing that had a reflection.

'Am I some kind of reverse-vampire now?' she wondered, putting the torch away. She hazarded a guess that it had something to do with light levels - or perhaps the reflection was so indistinct that it was only the fact that she, and thus her reflection, were moving that allowed her to make it out. Still, it seemed odd. Odd and intriguing, she concluded as she stared at herself, able to dimly make out her features, her hair - which seemed a deep blonde, in the gold metal - her figure, the loose track pants and t-shirt she wore as she was preparing to go to sleep. Her form seemed different, somehow - which she put down to the slight imperfections in the mirror's curved surface - not so slim, more sensual. She noticed with a grin that her reflection had curvier hips than she did, like a subtle version of a fairground mirror stretching her reflection. 'Maybe I should get more of these... I wouldn't mind having hot hips on a regular basis.'

Gazing at her reflection, for no good reason she could discern, she found herself studying her form, posing provocatively. With a shy grin at herself, and having double-checked that the blinds were properly closed, she stripped off her clothing and stood, hands on hips, surveying herself.

"Not bad," she conceded, thinking back to her college days. "Red Hot Rosenberg's still around, huh?" She trailed a hand across her stomach, remembering what it had felt like to be touched, various caresses both shy and bold, and sighed forlornly as she turned to her empty queen-sized bed and pulled back the covers.

Behind her, unseen, her reflection watched her as she moved away.

It was fifteen minutes later that Willow dropped her book on the bedside table and reached for the switch on her lamp. With a click the room fell into darkness, and Willow settled down to sleep, the covers rumpling slightly as she wriggled into a comfortable spot. Finally there was silence, broken only by her slow breathing. Five, ten seconds it stretched on - then, a voice.


There was a sharp intake of breath, then a thud, and the sound of Willow's hand scrabbling in the dark for the lamp switch. After a few seconds light bathed the room, revealing Willow sitting up, naked with the blankets pooled around her waist, and the source of the voice.

There was an old, faded lounge chair in the corner of the bedroom, by the windows which, when the blinds were open, looked out onto the small patio and back yard. A stack of books rested on a side table; on lazy afternoons Willow was in the habit of sitting there, in the sun, curled up in the chair which was just large enough to accommodate her folded legs comfortably, and reading something old and familiar.

The chair's current occupant was neither old nor familiar. Her appearance, and the soft glow of her skin, spoke of youth, yet there was an attractive maturity to her - in her clear blue eyes, and her proud, prominent cheekbones and lips, which perhaps might have made her face seem somewhat angular had the overall effect not been so elegant. Blonde hair, a deep, rich golden blonde, framed her face on either side and spilled over her shoulders, falling straight and luxurious, the edge of the light from Willow's lamp catching its highlights. She sat comfortably, at ease, with her elbows resting on the chair's armrests, one hand laid flat on the rest, the other draped down enough that her fingertips touched her hip, and her right leg was drawn up slightly, nestled in the crook of the armrest beside it, with her ankle resting behind her other calf.

She was extraordinarily beautiful, so much so that it was a moment before Willow realised that she was also extraordinarily naked, and another moment still before she realised that there was, indeed - beauty and nakedness aside - a complete stranger in her bedroom.

"What?" she demanded, while her thoughts scurried around haphazard in her head. "Who are you? What do you want?" She felt cool air across her chest and snatched up the edge of the top blanket to cover herself, suddenly realising her acute vulnerability.

"I've got a gun in here," she lied, moving her hand to the bedside table's single drawer. "And I know how to defend myself!" That, at least, was true, thanks to Buffy's fascination with martial arts. "So," she finished, hoping she sounded unafraid, "you'd just better leave, if you know what's good for you. Got it?" 'My home,' she wanted to say. 'Mine. No strange people, no matter how naked.' The initial shock having passed, Willow frowned, wondering what would come next, and stared intently at the intruder. 'Holy yipes, she's really naked...'

"I mean you no harm," the stranger said, keeping carefully still. "None at all, and I promise to leave, if that's what you want. But you did call for me. I'm Gold."

It took Willow a few silent seconds to realise she was using the word as a name.

"Gold," she said flatly, without really thinking further. The self-proclaimed Gold nodded once, calmly.

"I'm pretty sure I didn't call you," Willow said levelly, hoping that, at some point, the direction the conversation should take would become apparent. Gold turned her head and nodded again, towards the dresser. Willow glanced quickly at it, and the mirror atop it.

"What?" she asked. "I-it's not yours, is it?" She cringed inwardly. 'What sort of idiot question is that, under the circumstances?'

"No," Gold replied. "No, in fact, it would be more accurate to say that I belong to it. And tonight, to you."

Willow stared at her in confusion, trying to think of the sensible thing to say. Gold's nakedness - and sensual figure - wasn't helping her clarity. She somehow didn't feel threatened - she didn't honestly know what she felt.

"Could you perhaps explain that?" she hazarded. Gold nodded again.

"I am Gold," she said again. "I go where I'm called, through the well. As a well yields water to replenish life, I yield pleasure to replenish souls. You called to me, Willow - your sadness, the dull ache you felt at the greyness of the world around you. I realise, now, you didn't know it at the time, but you called to me to give you back colour, and vibrancy, and... and to fill your soul. To help you remember how beautiful the world can be, if you let it."

"Oooooo-kay," Willow said slowly. "You're... a, a genie in a bottle?" Gold laughed softly - a rich laugh that touched Willow and forced her to suppress a grin.

"In a sense," Gold smiled.

"Okay," Willow nodded. "See, here's the thing: you could actually be Barbara Eden, and just popped out of a mirror to say hi... naked..." she gulped, "or, and this is the bit that's kind of on my mind a bit, you could not be? And being that you're here, and here is my bedroom where normally people wouldn't be without at least letting me know beforehand, I'm wondering. Yeah?"

"Of course," Gold said soothingly. "You didn't know... perhaps it will help if you looked in the 'mirror'?"

"Come over there, you mean?" Willow asked warily. Gold, slowly so as not to startle Willow, shifted in the chair, crossing her legs, and placing her hands together in her lap.

"I won't move," she promised, and Willow was inclined to believe her. She couldn't put a finger on the reason, but the woman just didn't seem dangerous. And, now that the redhead thought about it, she had somehow appeared, in the space of a few seconds, in a room Willow knew to be empty when she turned out the light, without - she glanced around quickly to check, before returning her gaze to her companion - disturbing the blinds covering the closed glass door to the patio, or moving the t-shirt which Willow had hung on the knob of the door leading to the living room. There was definitely something not adding up with the 'crazy intruder' theory, no matter how much didn't add up on the face of the 'genie in a bottle' theory pitted against it. At least the latter makes sense internally, once you get past the nonexistent part of it.

Willow leaned forward and pulled up the old dressing gown, which she kept near the foot of the bed on top of the blankets, covering herself without taking her eyes off Gold. Cautiously she abandoned the presumed safety of the bed, on the side opposite her visitor, and walked to the dresser.

"You want me to look in the mirror," she said - a statement, not a question. Gold nodded.

Willow glanced at the mirror, keeping Gold's naked, motionless form in the periphery of her vision.

"I don't see anything," she said carefully.

"Nothing at all," Gold agreed. "No reflection." Willow looked again, and frowned, confusion making her momentarily forget to keep an eye on Gold. She had no reflection - she was as invisible as the rest of the room, and the surface now seemed to be nothing more than a polished disc, smooth but not reflective enough to be of any use as a mirror at all.

"May I move?" Gold asked, startling Willow. She looked quickly at the naked woman, who had remained motionless.

"Why?" she asked.

"To demonstrate," Gold replied. Willow backed away, and nodded before she realised it. Gold slowly stood - her motions were as smooth as ripples on a calm ocean - and took a few paces to stand in front of the dresser. She held out an arm to the mirror, touched its surface with her fingertips, then reached further, and to Willow's amazement her hand passed through the metal.

"Wha..." she gasped. "How are you...?" Stunned curiosity overriding her lingering suspicion she quickly moved closer, and leaned over the dresser to look behind it. Gold's hand was nowhere to be seen. She leaned back to look at the mirror side-on. Gold's arm simply vanished at the wrist - not through the mirror, but into it.

"How are you doing that?" she demanded.

"I came from the well," Gold said simply. "Its light is my source. I can return... if that's what you want."

Willow stared at her, a million questions fighting for space in her head. For some reason the one that came out first was:

"Suppose I don't... then what?"

Gold slowly drew her hand back out of the mirror, took a step back, then turned and seated herself elegantly on the edge of the bed before looking back up at Willow.

"If you permit me," she said quietly, "I'll please you."

"How?" Willow asked, again with her mouth voicing the question before the rest of her had made up its mind.

"Any way you want," Gold said, with the ghost of a smile touching her lips. Willow stared at her, while half her thoughts whirled around uncomprehendingly, and the other half comprehended all too well and presented a number of fascinating, distracting possibilities. She found herself moved to join Gold, sitting with her on the bed, with a decent distance between them... yet, closer. Gold's scent reached her, subtle yet powerful, a perfume that carried with it whispered tales of passion and magic.

"This is crazy," Willow said feebly.

"You've never noticed the world being crazy before?" Gold asked, one side of her mouth turning up impishly.

"Well when you put it like that," Willow agreed before she could help herself. "You really... you want to...?" She met Gold's stare, and was stunned by what she saw - Gold did want to. Willow had seen similar gazes before, partly shrouded by indecision or confusion, but Gold's eyes hid nothing. Gold wanted, completely, passionately, and simply, to make love to her.

"I do," the naked woman said, unnecessarily.

"How can you..." Willow asked in a whisper. "I mean, you... you don't even know me, how can you want..."

"I do know you," Gold assured her calmingly. "I am... what I have been, forever. At many times, in many places, with many people. But the well shows your desire - what you desire, and that's the form I take. As you see me now, the... the person I am, I am newborn, virgin, and for you alone. I'm your desire - this is how I am, and how I'll remain until the morning's light." She ventured a smile. "So, naturally... I want to... with you. You see?"

"Until morning?" Willow asked. Gold nodded.

"And then, what?"

"Then," Gold replied, "I return to the well. This Gold," she placed a hand softly on her chest, which Willow had to fight not to stare at, "will have been, and the essence of me that is forever will wait to become another."

"A-and," Willow said slowly, marshalling her courage to believe, perhaps, that something extraordinary was happening, "you're... my desire?"

Gold seemed to sense the tentative change in Willow's demeanour, and smiled more broadly. Slowly, so as not to startle Willow, she moved herself further onto the bed and leant back, folding one arm beneath her head like a pillow, while her other hand trailed down from her chest across her stomach, and came to rest on her hip, her fingertips pointing provocatively inwards.

"Aren't I?" she asked quietly.

She held Willow's gaze, then glanced down at herself, silently giving Willow permission to do likewise. Willow helplessly took in her smooth neck, the collarbones spreading to the curve of her shoulders, her generous breasts pillowing softly on her chest, nipples erect, her flawless stomach, her exquisitely womanly hips, and - she couldn't stop herself - the dark gold thatch of hair at the apex of her thighs, growing from tiny, thin hairs to thick curls as Willow's gaze neared her centre, before travelling on to encompass shapely legs, with firm thighs, elegant calves, and finally her smooth feet resting on the edge of the bed.

Three thoughts were paramount in Willow's mind. The first and most obvious was that this was entirely too implausible to be real. The second was that Gold was, without a doubt, the sum total of all her fantasies, and that from the top of her head to the tips of her toes, there wasn't an inch of her that disproved her extraordinary claim to be tailored exactly to Willow's own desires. The third was that, if she did tell Gold to go away, and the strange woman did so, she, Willow, would very probably regret it for the rest of her life.

"You are," she whispered, making up her mind.

Gold slowly sat up, resting on one elbow.

"May I touch you?" she asked gently. Willow hesitated, unable to go further and unwilling to go back.

"May I touch your hand?" Gold said after a moment's indecisive silence.

'Seems safe enough,' Willow thought absently, as she nodded. Gold gave a grateful nod in reply, and reached out the arm she wasn't using to prop herself up, taking Willow's hand gently in hers. Willow half-turned to watch more closely as Gold drew her hand closer to herself, and finally placed it against her shoulder, sliding Willow's fingertips across her skin at a snail's pace.

"Is this alright?" she asked, as she brought Willow's hand to the side of her neck.

"Sh-shouldn't I be asking you that?" Willow asked with a hesitant smile, her voice sounding jarringly loud to her own ears in the hushed silence between them.

"You can if you want," Gold replied with a chuckle. "But the answer will always be the same."

Willow couldn't think of a response to that, so she watched in silence as her hand was gently guided up Gold's smooth neck, beneath her jaw as the woman tilted her head back, and over her chin to her mouth. Her blue eyes fluttered closed as her lips parted beneath Willow's fingertips - not quite kissing, but touching, yielding beneath Willow's touch. She felt Gold's sigh caress her fingers, and the whisper-touch of breath on her fingertips travelled straight to her core.

Gold did kiss her then, lifting her fingers and pressing her lips beneath the redhead's knuckles, before guiding Willow in exploring the rest of her face. As if in a dream Willow watched and felt Gold's smooth cheeks, her forehead, her temple, with golden hair silkily caressing the back of her hand. The tiny hairs of Gold's eyebrow tickled Willow's fingertips, and she couldn't suppress a sigh as she felt the woman's soft eyelashes move, and her hand was guided back down to Gold's lips as she once more revealed her hypnotic blue eyes.

"More," she whispered into Willow's palm, "please?"

"More," Willow echoed.

Gold let go of her hand and leant back, rolling over and rising to her hands and knees. Like a big cat she prowled towards Willow, leaning forward to stroke her face against the redhead's thigh, nudging the edge of her dressing gown a few inches higher. She slowly rose up before Willow, on her knees, and in one fluid motion straddled her and began to gently, patiently push her to the bed. Willow gasped as she felt Gold's hands move from her shoulders to her chest, taking the edges of her dressing gown and beginning to move them slowly back. Gold's hands stilled at the sound, withdrew, and she looked down into Willow's eyes questioningly.

Willow stared at the face she had never seen before this night, but had explored by touch, and which now gazed at her with such devotion and desire, while she inhaled Gold's sweet aroma... before she knew it her own hands were replacing Gold's on her dressing gown, and she was baring her body to her. Gold looked down, slowly, unashamed of the liberties her eyes were taking with Willow's modest, firm breasts, and the flat expanse of her stomach, then she caught Willow's eye again and leant down to kiss her.

Willow was no stranger to kisses, but this was unlike any she had known before. Gold's lips parted easily, as did her own, responding instinctively to the softness. Then Gold's tongue was searching out hers, the tips touching, then stroking the length of Willow's tongue, caressing it. Willow moaned as she tasted Gold, honey and spice melding into a flavour that mingled innocence and lust. She felt the woman's breasts on hers, felt a burning, moist sensation on her waist, and the touch of Gold's thighs on her hips, but the kiss swept everything else away, and Willow found herself lustily drinking Gold's flavour, without hesitation.

It seemed an age before Gold withdrew, and Willow raised herself up, craning her neck at first then pushing up on her elbows, to win a few more seconds of Gold's divine lips. She opened her eyes, pleading silently, when the contact broke. Gold was staring at her, her skin flushed, her breathing quick and heavy, her eyes half-closed, and with pupils threatening to overtake the crystal blue of her irises.

'Afterglow,' Willow thought instantly, noting a second later how moist her stomach was where the woman's soft sex was pressing against her, 'did she...? My god...'

"More?" Gold asked in a husky whisper. Willow nodded quickly, urgently.

Gold leant back down, but instead of capturing Willow's lips her tongue snuck beneath the redhead's chin, and gently tilted her head back. Willow lay back down, delighting in the feel of Gold's tongue on her skin, as the woman moved slowly down and parted her lips wider, covering the front of Willow's neck and kissing her. It was something Willow had never felt before - it was primal, animal, but she felt no fear as she surrendered, as she felt the echo of a predator in Gold's mouth on her vulnerable neck.

Gold left her gasping as she moved on again, leaving a trail of lusty kisses across the hollow of Willow's throat, down to her chest. Willow heard, and felt on her skin, Gold moan as she neared her left nipple. Then her mouth opened again, and Willow was engulfed, and could no longer stifle the squeal of delight that erupted from her.

Gold suckled at her voraciously - her tongue drew Willow's engorged nipple deep, caressing, spiralling around the nub, as the suction from her mouth yearned for something from Willow's body to fill her. And by the way she resumed grinding her hips against Willow's lower stomach, she was finding it, and revelling in drinking her fill. Willow, slightly more clear-headed, having reached a kind of plateau after the initial desperate shock of unbridled desire had passed into her, realised her earlier suspicion was true: Gold was about to climax, again she believed - the blonde writhed and thrust her soaking, yielding flesh against Willow's skin, held herself in needful agony for an instant as she abandoned Willow's left breast for her right, and gave a mighty shudder as she began to repeat her attentions there.

Willow arched her back sharply, lifting herself up off the bed on her shoulders and hips, and Gold's hands flew to her back, holding her up as she eagerly devoured her breasts, licking, sucking, nibbling, spreading her lips open over mouthfuls of soft flesh again and again. Willow desperately needed relief - it was too much pleasure to bear without letting it burst out of her, and she moaned plaintively and squirmed her hips, unable to form words to express her need. She didn't need to though, for Gold seemed at once to understand, and relinquishing her straddling position above Willow, her mouth began to travel down over Willow's stomach, while her strong arms moved down also, lifting Willow's hips from the bed.

"Please," Willow heard herself moan, as Gold's arms wrapped around her hips and pulled the redhead's needy opening up to press to her abdomen, anointing herself with Willow's copious juices. She pressed her mouth to Willow's navel and extended her tongue as deep as the tiny hollow would allow, wriggling luxuriantly about as she drank in the remnants of her own earlier climax - a prelude which had Willow sobbing with desire for the consummation.

Gold obliged, dramatically. Willow felt her shift on the bed, then her arms were once more beneath her back, cradling her, supporting her with wide-splayed fingers, and with seemingly no effort at all she lifted Willow bodily off the bed until her thighs found themselves resting on Gold's shoulders, and her arms swung beneath her, fingertips trailing across the bedclothes. Willow had no time to be amazed at the sheer power in Gold's modest frame; she felt Gold's breath on her sex, and all thoughts of her novel position abandoned her as she spread her legs wide. There was a pressure, gentle against her swollen lips, an unfamiliar feeling - Willow lifted her head and gazed down the length of her body, shining with sweat and the trail of Gold's lips, to see the woman resting her forehead against her sex. She lifted her head slowly, allowing Willow to see and feel as her face slid through her silky, slick folds, and finally stared up at her, blue eyes burning bright in a face gleaming with Willow's passion.

The moment her eyes locked with Willow's she opened her mouth wide, yawning wide, and engulfed Willow's sex in heat and sensation and lust. Willow couldn't hold on - her head lolled back, eyes closed, and she moaned incoherently, ceaselessly, as Gold's tongue explored her. She felt herself begin to orgasm - hesitated a moment, wanting to prolong the exquisite feeling, but her body would not be held back. It made no difference, as Gold showed no sign of slowing as Willow's dam burst into her mouth. She feasted thirstily on Willow's nectar, and searched for more even as the thick gush of moisture was flowing down her throat.

Willow felt as if she were flying - she lost track of where the bed was beneath her, of what exactly Gold's mouth and tongue were doing, and felt only the devouring, incessant stimulation that held her in thrall. It felt as though Gold was everywhere, circling her clit, suckling on it like she had her nipples, and within her too, deep inside, calling another climax into being.

If Willow had had any thoughts, she would have been grateful she lived in a house, not an apartment with other people on the other side of thin walls. But she had no thoughts, only deep, throaty screams of joy as she burst again, and felt her flood cascade into Gold, joining them as her sweet nectar flowed through the seamless passage created from her centre and Gold's mouth. It seemed never-ending - Gold kept licking, sucking, wanting, and Willow rode the crest of a thundering, uncontrollable wave as her body kept giving, again, and again, and again... screaming pleasure, and again...

Willow came to lying in a cocoon of warmth - Gold had placed her back beneath the blankets, and was cuddled around her left side, her thigh cast across Willow's hips, arm reaching around her torso, head cradled on her shoulder.

"Whu?" Willow mumbled, her voice slurring as she struggled back to awareness.

"It's alright," Gold whispered. "You were napping, not for long..."

"Passed out from bliss, you mean," Willow smiled lazily, feeling utterly peaceful - it felt so natural to have this enigmatic woman nestled up to her. "I've never done that before. Passed out, I mean." Gold gave a little shrug.

"Now you have," she said. Willow looked at her, catching her gaze as she glanced up, and mustered her courage.

"Can I...?" she began. "I mean, would you like... I'd like to, um... return the favour?"

Gold stirred, and Willow felt her hips shift against her side, sensually. But she rose up on her elbow and regarded Willow with a gentle stare.

"You don't have to," she said softly. "You don't have to do anything."

"But can I?" Willow persisted hopefully - Gold's voice didn't seem to refuse her. "I'd like to. I'd, uh... I'd really love to," she admitted with a blush, realising how silly it was to blush before a woman who had mere moments ago been practically melded to her sex, coaxing and drinking climax after climax from her. It wasn't simply the need not to seem selfish that motivated her - she genuinely wanted to give pleasure to Gold, to give her in turn, as best she could, the experience she had just received from her.

"I'd love that," Gold whispered, as if reading her mind. Willow grinned and bit her lip, wriggling up from beneath the covers as Gold helped pull them back, revealing herself. She moved herself up slightly, resting her head on the pillow and looking sidelong at Willow with a sensual smile as she lay on her stomach, naked and satisfied.

Willow knelt by her side and leant over to kiss the nape of her neck, slowly working her way down to her shoulders as she heard aroused murmurs welling up in Gold's throat. She sat up slowly for a moment, admiring the woman's naked back in the lamplight, and something caught her eye. So subtly that she'd missed them at first, two gold stripes ran from Gold's shoulder blades downward, diverging slowly, fading out as they curved over the top of her ass, either side of its crevice.

"What're these?" Willow asked innocently, stroking her hand down Gold's back, tracing the lines. At the other woman's hesitation she looked up, and saw doubt in her eyes, and something more - sadness, she realised.

"What's wrong?" she asked quickly, as Gold opened her mouth. The radiant woman hesitated, then spoke quietly.

"They're a... a remnant," she said.

"Of what?" Willow asked, frowning in confusion. She glanced again at Gold's back, wondering - 'remnant?' They weren't scars, as far as she could tell, they were quite smooth to the rest of her skin, more like very faint tattoos.

"I'm..." Gold began, paused, and swallowed. "I'm different to you. The way you see me is a, a..." she searched for the word, while Willow gently stroked her back, up and down, soothingly, " idealisation. What you see is your desire, the way you would want me to be."

"You told me," Willow nodded. "You're different each time you're... summoned?" Gold nodded.

"It's not just that though," she went on. "I'm different - not human. If I let go, I'd be... you'd still see your desires, that part of me, but I'd also be my own nature. This body," she shrugged slightly, sadly, "it's... I guess you'd say this is the human version of me. Of this incarnation of me. What's inside still shows through, faintly. That's what those marks are," she finished glumly.

"Well what's so bad about it?" Willow asked, quickly lying down to cuddle Gold. "I know you're different, I mean you came out of a mirror, but - don't they say it's what's inside that counts?"

"That's what 'they' say," Gold nodded with a faint smile. "But those are words, it's easy to say them when you don't have to see... what's inside isn't like... I'm very different, Willow."

"Could I see?" Willow asked. Gold shot her a startled look.

"Really," Willow assured her. "I'd like to see. I mean, if it's not dangerous - you wouldn't blow up the house or anything? Like, you're not really five miles tall or something?" Despite the hesitation in her eyes, Gold laughed quietly, and finally shook her head.

"I'm not dangerous," she said. She looked at Willow, wary and hopeful at once.

"I want to see," Willow said. Gold closed her eyes, her expression now inscrutable, and nodded.

"I need a little room," she said quietly, slipping away from Willow and out of her bed. Willow sat up and watched as Gold walked slowly around the end of the bed to stand in the open, between her and the blind-covered windows.

"Try not to be scared," she said, sounding almost resigned. She looked up once, meeting Willow's gaze for a fleeting instant, then closed her eyes again and took a deep breath.

Slowly, a golden glow built behind her, light streaming out of her back until it was so bright Willow could only see her as a silhouette. Her form shifted, and spread - on either side of her something was stretching outwards, reaching as far as the room's walls would allow. Her whole body was consumed by the light, which seemed to flow as thick as liquid, pooling around her, and then... then it was gone, in an instant, and in its wake a new Gold stood before Willow.

She was taller, almost six feet, and though still lithe and supple in form, her muscles were more defined than earlier, showing now a hint - only a hint - of the strength she held within herself. Her skin was a deep gold-tinged bronze, as if perfectly tanned, and she gleamed as if oiled. Her hair fell to the level of her waist, and was even more extraordinary, seeming to be composed of pure metallic gold, yet still swaying easily as she shifted her weight. All of this Willow took in at a glance, and without fixing on it, because behind her spread a pair of great wings, unlike anything she had ever seen.

She moved forward, tentatively, to see, and Gold half-turned. From behind her shoulders two new limbs extended outwards, perfectly-formed, unearthly yet beautiful - tanned, healthy, with a hint of strength in the firm muscles. They resembled arms, but were much longer, each stretching out almost two metres even when bent, and the hands at their tips were far longer, more slender, that those on her regular arms. They in themselves were stunning enough, but beneath them, stretching from the palms of Gold's new hands, all the way along her limbs, down her back to her hips, where the golden marks had ended, were shimmering curtains of translucent gold, imbued with subtle, shifting patterns like spiderweb married with the deep sea, giving off a glow of their own. Gold's new, second pair of arms flexed, and her... 'Wings?' Willow thought... the membranes stretched taut between them and her body, like a flying fox, lit the room with their light.

Willow marvelled. A motion lower down caught her attention, and she noticed a further change, overshadowed until now by Gold's wings - a tail, three metres long, smooth and slender, extended from above the crevice of her ass between the lower edges of her wings, trailing almost to the floor but rising again before it touched, swishing slowly from side to side like a charmed snake. Half-way along its length a golden fin began, like the tail of some tropical paradise fish, spreading to half a metre wide before narrowing quickly at the tip.

Willow raised her eyes to Gold's, trying to find some way to express the wonder she felt, but she met a downcast expression, sad and lonely, and... ashamed?

"What's wrong?" she asked, quickly abandoning the bed, approaching the unearthly form her mysterious lover had taken without a second thought.

"I... wish you hadn't seen me like this," Gold whispered, almost stuttering several times. Willow shook her head and reached up to stroke her cheek.

"Why?" she asked.

"I'm not h-human. I'm a-" She hesitated, but Willow, somehow, could hear the next words as plainly as if they had been spoken: 'freak, monster, thing'.

"No," she shook her head vehemently, taking Gold's face in both her hands and making her meet her gaze. "No, you're... Gold, listen to me. You are the most beautiful person I have ever seen."

Gold stared at her in confusion and, slowly, dawning realisation. She swallowed with difficulty, her lips parted to take in a shallow breath, and then she leaned forward and bestowed a soft kiss on Willow's lips, as tears fell silently from her eyes.

"You... really?" she asked, still hesitant. "I was so- After what we shared... I was so afraid..."

"But you let me see anyway," Willow said with a quick grin.

"I-I had to," Gold admitted. Willow's eyebrows shot up in surprise.

"What do you mean?" she asked quickly.

"I'm yours," Gold explained. "Your desire, so... what you want, I do."

"Wait," Willow shook her head. "You mean, if I tell you I want something, you have to do it? You can't choose, or..." She took a startled gasp of air.

"That's right," Gold said. "Willow what's wrong? It's alright-"

"Did we...?" Willow began, seeming horrified at herself. "What we did- Did I make you do that? Oh god... Please, did I-" She fell back a step from Gold.

"No," Gold shook her head, reaching out to take Willow's hands. "No - Willow, please. You never said you wanted to make love. I promise, everything we did, I wanted to do. Everything. Willow?"

"Really?" Willow asked, on the verge of tears.

"I promise," Gold replied. She gave Willow's hands a little tug, which brought the smaller woman back to her, arms tightly around her waist, tears falling on her shoulder. Her fingertips almost reached the edges of Gold's wings where they met her buttocks, and they felt hot, but not uncomfortable to touch.

"Oh thank god," she whispered. Gold stroked her hair tenderly, until she stiffened and drew back.

"Wait," she said cautiously, "that's still - you still have to do what I say, don't you?" She regarded Gold with wary curiosity, as she nodded.

"It's alright," Gold said soothingly. "Pleasing you pleases me-"

"It's not alright," Willow said hotly, brows furrowing in rapid thought. "Okay then - whatever I say, you have to obey?"

"Unless you tell me to stay," Gold nodded. "Come sunrise, I return to the well - that's my nature, I'm sorry. Not even you can change that."

"Alright," Willow said, "then... I, Willow Rosenberg, officially want you to never again have to do anything at all. Okay? You only do what you want to do, what you want. Nobody else. Alright?" She stared resolutely into Gold's crystal blue eyes.

"Yes," Gold replied in a whisper. Slowly, a smile spread across her face, lighting her up as if she was glowing.

"That works, right?" Willow asked. "You don't have to, to obey orders, or anything, anymore?"

"Yes," Gold said again. She was glowing, Willow realised - the subtle aura of light from her wings and tail-fin was stronger, and enveloped all of her, and Willow with her. It felt warm, like a hot bath, or sunlight.

"So, um..." she ventured, "...I, uh... I want you to... stand on one leg." Gold looked down at her, and a giggle broke free of her lips.

"I don't want to," she replied, grinning brilliantly. Willow grinned too, tentatively for a second, then as wide as she could.

"So if I said," she whispered, "that you're the most beautiful, wonderful, amazing person I've ever known, and I wanted to make love to you, right now, as you are... you wouldn't have to say yes?"

"That's right," Gold nodded, taking a deep breath, unable to banish the smile from her lips. "I'd only say yes if I wanted you to." Willow gathered her courage, hugging Gold's gleaming body tightly.

"Do you?" she asked.

"Yes," Gold replied at once. Willow smiled, then released her grip on Gold's waist and looked to her side, straight at the shimmering surface of her wing. She reached out to touch it, and hesitated as she felt the radiating warmth on her fingers.

"Is it okay...?" she asked in a hushed tone. Gold nodded.

"You won't hurt me," she promised. "Touch me anywhere..."

Willow nodded and reached the last fraction of an inch, so that her fingers touched the fabric of the wing. It yielded under her touch, feeling soft and springy, like silk melded with elastic. Willow put her palm flat against the surface and stroked it slowly, up to the outstretched limb holding it in place, and down again. A lustful murmur rose in Gold's throat.

"Does it feel good?" Willow asked, already half-knowing the answer. Gold nodded anyway.

"Very," she whispered. Willow smiled and, daringly, stepped forward, spreading both arms wide and pressing her body into Gold's wing. It was soft and giving, like buoyant liquid, and enticingly warm - as Willow turned her head to watch Gold's face and rested her cheek against her wing, the sensation reminded her of lying on a smooth stone that had been basking in the sun all day.

"Mmmmmmm," Gold purred, swaying slightly. Willow grinned at her, then took her hand and turned her around, gently nudging her towards the bed.

"Can't have you falling over," she quipped, at which Gold chuckled and nodded. Willow sat her down on the edge of the bed, then reached up and ran her hands along the tops of her wing-limbs, gently urging them forward.

"Gimme a hug?" she asked, her lips curling into a naughty grin. Gold quickly complied, sweeping the arms from her back, and their attached wings, around herself and Willow, hugging her from behind. Willow giggled in delight as the warm, undulating wings covered her from head to toe, and stretched her arms out above her head, her fingers intertwining with Gold's long, graceful pair of wing-tip hands.

"Uhhhhyeeeeaaahhhh," she sighed, eyes closed, arching her back as Gold wrapped her wings around her, covering her tightly like a second skin. Every inch of Willow's body was treated to Gold's warmth, and the silky fabric of her wings worked on her skin, caressing her, kneading her pliant flesh. She felt herself slowly leaning back, and amazingly her feet left the floor, leaving her supported entirely by Gold, cradled in her wings. Meeting her gaze Willow let her legs part, allowing the warmth surrounding her to stroke freely across her sex and to bathe in the moisture seeping from her.

Gold's breaths came in quick gasps now, as she felt Willow's whole body writhe sensuously in her grip. Willow's smile widened as she saw the woman's hands move to her own body, one cupping her breasts, forearm beneath one as her hand covered the other and squeezed her nipple. Her other hand moved low, between her thighs, her fingers sinking without resistance between her own folds. Her eyes fluttered closed, her face caught in a mask of rapture.

Willow gasped loudly as she felt a firmer touch on her nether lips, and Gold's eyes flew open again, the hesitation returning to her face. Her wings parted to reveal Willow's naked form in full, and Willow looked down to see her finned tail withdrawing, brushing against her ankle as it drew away.

"I-I'm sorry," Gold said quickly, "I didn't- I wasn't thinking-"

"No wait," Willow interrupted her. "I..." She reached her feet down, finding the floor, and closed the short distance between herself and Gold's body, as her wings kept their presence around her back.

"I like what you 'weren't thinking'," she admitted with a smile. Gold stared up at her in wonder, and nodded, almost questioningly. Willow replied with a nod of her own.

"It... won't hurt," Gold began to assure her.

"I know," Willow smiled. She took Gold's hands in hers and put them on her own waist, then moved forward into her, straddling her hips, and put her arms around her shoulders.

"This is all so amazing," she whispered. "I don't want to hold anything back. I don't want you to think you have to, either. Just... do it. Anything." She leaned forward and pressed a kiss to the side of Gold's neck.

"I trust you," she finished, as she felt Gold's tail on the back of her waist, touching her tentatively.

Gold lifted her easily, settling her around her body, arms and legs fastened around her shoulders and waist, and kissed her deeply, while the tip of her tail stroked her sex tenderly, opening her as gently as sunlight would the petals of a flower. Willow moaned into her mouth as the slender, supple length began to enter her, the ethereal fin around it folding easily in as it slipped between her lips and into her core.

"Ohhhhh god..." she murmured indistinctly, her lips still pressed open against Gold's. She had had her share of penetration - the regular kind, with her eager, gentle, first-and-only boyfriend, and plenty subsequently with women, by way of various inventively-crafted toys. This was different - this was unlike anything else. Gold's tail surged and thrust, all the while caressing her inside, exploring her the way fingers might, and the folds of her fin brushed sweetly against her walls like lips, and outside loved her own folds tenderly, coaxing her open further.

Unthinkingly Willow took a deep, gasping breath without breaking her kiss with Gold, and moaned as she felt warmth flow into her lungs, and diffuse throughout her body. She felt no need for air - she breathed in Gold's essence instead, filling herself, bringing on her impending climax that much quicker in the process.

"Oh god!" she screamed, throwing her head back, while Gold moaned in bliss as Willow's nectar covered her squirming tail. Her huge wings lifted and whipped down, lifting her into the air as Willow clung to her, her head still thrown back, eyes tightly closed, her mouth moving soundlessly as she recovered from the first wave of pleasure.

Gold's tail slowed in the afterglow, and began to withdraw, but Willow instantly clutched even tighter, pushing her hips down, and with a sated smile Gold relented and remained buried inside her lover, moving gently to and fro as she used the length of her tail, snaking between her legs, to firmly rub her own weeping sex. Her wings continued to beat slowly - too slowly, it seemed, to truly lift her, yet she and Willow remained aloft, buoyed as if they weighted almost nothing.

"Th-that..." Willow gasped, slowly letting her head fall forwards into Gold's heaving bosom, "that was... I never... god, never felt anything like that..." Gold smiled and softly kissed the crown of her head, letting her own metallic hair fall either side of Willow's face, stroking her shoulders.

"Me neither," she whispered.

"You... can really feel it?" Willow asked. She tensed her inner muscles, and grinned as she felt Gold's body shudder.

"Everything," Gold promised.

"Um," Willow began after a moment of gathering herself. She looked up at Gold, smiling playfully.

"I don't want this to sound like a dumb question, but are we flying?"

"I do have wings," Gold pointed out with a laugh.

"You can really fly?" Willow asked, in spite of the obvious evidence that the woman she was still wrapped around was in no contact with the floor at all.

"Would you like to go for a flight?" Gold asked in reply. She hesitated, then smiled as an idea seemed to occur to her.

"There's something I'd like to show you," she said invitingly. Willow nodded, and Gold let them drift to the floor and walked slowly to the door leading to the patio.

"I, uh, don't have the key," she admitted with a sheepish smile. Willow giggled.

"I'll get it," she offered, unhooking her legs from around Gold's waist. "No, don't," she added quickly, as Gold again began to withdraw her tail. "It's just in the bedside table - it'll reach. I, uh," she grinned through a rising blush, "I like that."

Gold smiled and nodded, and neither of them could keep from giggling as Willow walked to the table on shaky legs, with Gold's still-embedded tail snaking after her, and returned with the key.

"See?" Willow laughed. "Easy, nothing to it..." She dissolved in a fit of giggles, and Gold kissed her cheek.

"Sweetie," she chuckled. Willow drew back the blinds, revealing the night-time garden outside, and unlocked the glass door, letting it slide out of the way. Gold snuck her hands beneath Willow's thighs and picked her up again, carrying her out into the garden. Willow watched, breathless, as Gold's wings first drew in on themselves to fit through the doorway, then spread to their fullest reach, filling the garden with her golden glow as they spanned more than eight metres.

"Beautiful," Willow whispered in awe. Gold kissed her again, then beat her wings slowly, lifting her bare feet off the grass, and held Willow securely, her arms moving up beneath her shoulders, holding her back, her legs reaching either side of Willow's thighs and locking around her waist.

"Oh," Willow pouted as Gold began, again, to withdraw her tail, but this time the luminous woman smiled.

"I need that to steer," she murmured, as the tip of the slender limb left Willow's sex, with a final loving flourish against her folds. She spread and beat her wings again, lifting higher - Willow could see over the fences into her neighbour's yards now.

'Lucky no-one's out late,' she mused silently, then, 'but who cares? Let 'em see if they want.

"Steering?" she asked. "I didn't think you'd have to worry about aerodynamics... the way you just sort of float, like this." Gold smiled, as her wings again lifted and whooshed down - they were higher than the rooftops now, rising.

"Etherdynamics," she replied. "Same idea, different medium. Do you trust me?"

"Of course," Willow said without hesitation.

"This may be... strange," Gold cautioned. "You'll be alright, I promise. I've got you."

"I know," Willow agreed.

Gold smiled at her, then lifted her eyes to the heavens, as her wings drew back far above her head. Willow trembled in excitement at the feeling of latent power in the body holding her, the bunching of muscles for an imminent exhortation, the feeling of potential, about to come into being.

Gold whipped her wings down hard, sending herself and Willow soaring up. Willow laughed in giddy joy as she watched her house, her street, her neighbourhood, drop away beneath her - a dizzying height, yet she felt safe in Gold's arms, secure, as if it were impossible for her to fall. Gold beat her wings again and again, gathering speed each time, soaring higher and higher, impossibly fast. Willow saw the whole city, the scattered, dim lights of sleeping suburbs, the main roads still lit up like arteries, the areas still busy by night glowing from thousands of tiny pinpricks of light, like colonies of fireflies. Then a layer of cloud rushed past in the blink of an eye, and Willow turned her gaze upward, to the stars and the shining moon, spinning slowly above them as they climbed.

When she looked back down the horizon was curved. Judging speed was difficult, but Gold's wings were moving slower, and they seemed more to be drifting than flying. Willow took a deep breath as Gold loosened her grip, letting Willow sit in her embrace rather than holding her tightly - her lungs filled with air, tasting of Gold. Common sense told her she should be suffocating, or freezing, yet she felt only the radiant warmth of Gold's body on her skin.

"How..." she began, then looked down and lost the ability to speak for a moment. The whole world was beneath her - stretching away in every direction, but curved clearly now, so that there was no longer the vast illusion of a world going on forever into the horizon. Willow, for the first time with her own eyes, saw the whole, vast world at once. The night side was curtained in a blanket of black, pure over the oceans, with dustings of light marking the landmasses. It was huge, incomprehensibly enormous, yet Willow reached out a hand as if to hold it -

"So small," she whispered.

"Yes," Gold agreed - in casual defiance of the vacuum around them, her voice was as clear as Willow's own. "But it contains so many miracles - so much life. Tiny seeds, with nothing more than soil and rain and sun, become towering trees... Lovers create life, a tiny stirring of seed and egg in the womb will become a living being, a new soul... Even an idea, a passing thought, the tiniest of things, can become the glory of a billion people. She drew Willow to her and kissed her tenderly.

"Imagine what this tiny seed, Earth, might become," she whispered. Willow cried silently, joyfully.

"This is what you're giving me," she said. "Isn't it? This is how you make me 'rich in spirit?'"

"You always were," Gold replied gently. "Everyone is. Everyone can be."

"You're a miracle," Willow wept. Gold shook her head.

"That's the miracle," she said, casting her eyes down at the world beneath them. "I'm just a reminder, that it's there."

"How..." Willow gasped. "How can I thank you? There isn't a way, not for this..."

"You don't need to," Gold smiled. Willow stared at her, then nodded, and leaned forward to kiss her. Their lips parted against each other, their tongues mingled, their hands explored each other's naked bodies under the silver light of all the stars in creation.

Willow drew back, gasping, and smiled lasciviously at Gold. Gently removing Gold's limbs from around herself she nudged her shoulder, just hard enough to spin herself around, and caught hold of her thighs to steady herself, now inverted. She looked up, between their bodies, to see Gold staring down at her, a matching smile on her face. In unspoken agreement they lowered their mouths to each other's parting folds in unison, and once more held each other close as they feasted together. Gold's flavour was intoxicating to Willow, immeasurably stronger and spicier than when kissing her, and as she delicately held her soft folds open with her fingers she lapped hungrily, seeking out every drop of moisture to flow from her centre. The few that escaped formed perfect spheres and drifted slowly away.

Gold applied herself with equal vigour to tasting Willow, pressing her lips against the pink softness of her yielding core, licking lustily, before working the tip of her lengthening tongue into Willow and suckling direct from her source. Loud moans welled up inside her as Willow's body shuddered and surrendered its secrets to her, her thighs closing around her head, as hers did to Willow, and her wings slowly wrapped around them both, cocooning them in a vibrant, radiant blanket of passion. For a moment, a new star shone in the sky.

Willow stirred, and woke slowly. She blinked in the dimness of her bedroom, and looked around.

'Just a dream,' she mused, with some reluctance to admit it. Her eye caught the gold mirror sitting silent on top of her dresser, and she gave a wan smile. 'But what a dream!'

She sat up, with the vague feeling something was different. She had to frown and think a moment, before she realised - she wasn't in her usual spot in the bed. Normally she occupied the centre, but this morning she found herself on one side, and to her left the blankets were rumpled, the pillows bunched, as if... '...someone slept there...'

Willow felt the sheets beneath the blankets - warm.

"Gold?" she whispered. She looked around again at the empty room, and her eyes fell on the full length windows, the blinds drawn, but letting in slivers of the sunrise from outside.

"Until morning? And then, what?"

"Then I return to the well. This Gold will have been, and the essence of me that is forever will wait to become another."

Willow shed a tear for the strange, magical, gentle being who had changed her world. Moving slowly she got up, crossed to the windows, and opened the blinds to look out at the new morning. The sun was still low, most of the garden in shadow, but Willow could easily pick out the glistening of dew on the grass, the vibrant colours of tiny flowers turning their petals towards the sky, the little, jerky motions of a bird in the branches of one of the small trees, tugging at a twig for his nest.

'She didn't change my world,' Willow thought, a smile creeping onto her lips. 'Just opened my eyes to it. And it's all still out there.'

She opened the door - the key was still in the lock - and walked naked out onto the grass, feeling the tiny dew-drops of water trickle through her toes. The early sunlight touched her as she moved into it, making her feel incredibly alive, and she stretched her arms above her head, closed her eyes, and laughed.

"Thank you!" she called out to the sky.

"I told you you don't need to," Gold's voice came from behind her. Willow spun around to see her, as she had first appeared - human - leaning against the side of the house, idly stroking the leaves on one of the smaller trees that grew up against the wall. She grinned at Willow and walked towards her.

"I..." Willow tried to speak, "you... but... dawn? You said..."

"You said," Gold smiled, taking Willow's hands and placing them on her hips, "that I never have to do anything again. That I should only do what I want to do." She beamed at Willow. "I want to be with you."

"You..." Willow struggled, "but... you said I couldn't tell you to stay...?"

"You didn't," Gold explained, slowly drawing her into a warm embrace. "I told myself to stay... I hoped I could. And I did. And here I am." She looked around. "I've never seen the sun rise before... isn't it beautiful?" Willow nodded.

"That's what you gave me," Gold said tenderly.

"The sunrise?" Willow asked. Gold laughed softly and shook her head.

"You gave me me," she replied. "You let me love you, from my own heart. That's far more than I gave you."

"W-well then," Willow said, gathering her composure, "you could make it up to me? I happen to know there's a whole miraculous world to explore... you could explore it with me. If you want to?" Gold smiled radiantly.

"Yes," she said, "I do want to." She leant into Willow's kiss, knowing it was coming, and for a moment all was silent - even the bird in the tree paused in gathering its wood - while they shared themselves. Gold finally drew back a fraction.

"There is one thing I'd like to ask you," she whispered.

"I love you," Willow promised. "Ask anything."

"A name?" Gold asked in reply.

"A name?" Willow echoed.

"I'm not 'Gold' now," she said softly. "I'm... something I've never been before. I want a name - and I want it to be from you."

Willow stared, searching her thoughts for something, anything, to fit this goddess. 'Goddess,' she thought, 'goddess... of peace, a shining star...'

"Tara," she whispered.

"Say 'my Tara,'" the other woman asked.

"My Tara," Willow complied, smiling.

"Yes," said Tara, "I like that name." She gave Willow a suggestive grin.

"What part of this world of miracles do you want to explore first?" she asked in a husky voice that sent a shiver down Willow's spine.

"Guess," Willow grinned, squeezing Tara's hips. They both laughed easily.

"So," Willow began, "you're... human now?" Tara grinned at her, and took a deep breath.

"No," she said, as she began to change, her glowing wings spreading around them both, "I'm your Tara... just like I always was."

Next in the Elemental series: Earth by Watson

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